Playtime

An excellent article from Wednesday’s New York Times on imaginative play:

SARAH WILSON was speaking proudly the other day when she declared: “My house is a little messy.”

Ms. Wilson lives in Stroudsburg, Pa., a small town in the Poconos. Many days, her home is strewn with dress-up clothes, art supplies and other artifacts from playtime with her two small children, Benjamin, 6, and Laura, 3. “I let them get it messy because that’s what it’s here for,” she said.

Ms. Wilson has embraced a growing movement to restore the sometimes-untidy business of play to the lives of children. Her interest was piqued when she toured her local elementary school last year, a few months before Benjamin was to enroll in kindergarten. She still remembered her own kindergarten classroom from 1985: it had a sandbox, blocks and toys. But this one had a wall of computers and little desks.

“There’s no imaginative play anymore, no pretend,” Ms. Wilson said with a sigh.

This is the way I remember playtime when I was a kid. Of course, we had some structured play—games and sports, for example—but most of the time it was me and my friends playing on our own in the backyard, the park, or the wooded area around the private Catholic school across the street from us.

Not that I’d let Anna loose in a wooded area—times have changed, but we make sure she gets some free play everyday. What I don’t understand is how parents got away from this. How and when they started thinking that every activity had to be planned out to the second with no room at all for spontaneity or creativity.

Somehow parents forgot that kids need to be kids.

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